Carpe Diem – Seize the Day. In baseball, it’s Carpe Call-um. Seize the Call.
Or as Yogi Berra would say, I call ’em as I seize ’em
Stories from the Blue
My 21 year old nephew, Michael, no longer able to play ball because of an injured shoulder, has taken to umpiring little league baseball games. He picks up some nice cash for his efforts, working with an old style umpire, Damien, who has taken him under his wing.
He came home the other night talking about how Damien, the Experienced Home Plate Blue, ran into a few hard bumps, make that lumps, in the road himself.
They were umping a pretty rotten team. Damien, as usual, was behind home plate. The catcher could not catch a ball to save his life. To even call him a catcher was a misrepresentation. He was a kid in a uniform and catcher’s gear that they stuck in the game to give an appearance of someone at home plate attempting to catch a ball. A squirrel with a mitt would have done a better job.
The pitcher had a pretty good fastball, and it invariably got passed the catcher. The catcher would scramble to find the ball, but again a squirrel could find nuts faster than this kid could even get his mask of his head, much less find the ball.
Then there was the case of the flying ball passing the catching squirrel and streaking right into the Blue’s nuts, or groin as it is more appropriately called in little league games. This naturally sent Damien into a tizzy, throwing his mask up into the air, hopping all around the backstop, yelling, “Hoo boy. Hoo boy. Hoo boy”
During this same game, the pitcher also managed to bean Damien on the hand, knocking his count clicker into the air, which might have pissed off Damien as much as being hit in the hand. Damien managed to yell out a few more harsher words this time than “Hoo Boy”, which caused a few parents to cringe and a few others to stifle what their spouses felt were inappropriate chuckles.
This same pitcher also managed to hit a batter twice in the same inning. Michael explained that when a pitcher hit a batter twice in the same inning, the pitcher had to come out. He did not mention any rules about hitting the umpire.
Michael wasn’t sure if this was just this particular league’s rule or a little league rule in general. But when this pitcher managed to hit a batter twice in the same inning, Damien looked at Michael and said, “I really want to take his ass out but they only have eight players anyways. I don’t think we’re going to enforce this rule right now.
Later in the game, Michael had a runner on second. The play was obviously going to be to third. The ball was hit to the second baseman. The runner took off, the second baseman had more than enough time to make the play, but he bobbled the ball, then recovered, and made the throw. The runner slid into third, and Michael said that he just knew that the runner was going to be out even though the second baseman had bobbled the ball because there was still more than enough time to have made the play at third. Except that the second baseman threw like a goddamned girl, and the third baseman managed to bobble the ball himself. Even so, Michael proceeded to call the runner out.
You did change the call to safe, right? I asked.
Nope, he replied. I called him out. He was out.
Michael, how could you do that?
He was out.
No, he was safe.
He was safe only because the infield sucked. The kid should have been out. So I called him out.
Didn’t the parents go crazy?
So what did you do?
Nothing. I just stood there.
They looked to the home plate blue for a reversal.
So what did Damien say?
He told then that he couldn’t see it from his angle, and then everyone went crazy.
So what happened?
He called the game.
Nope. He goddamned called the game and walked off. I had to run after him to get away from the crazed families. I caught up to him real fast ‘cause I wasn’t spending any more time on that field than I had to. He was just slowly ambling to the parking lot.
He whispered to me without even looking at me, don’t rush and don’t look back.
I felt like we were leaving Sodom and Gomorrah.
As we walked away slowly, Damien said, as he looked off in distance trying to remember where he had parked his pick up, fuck ‘em, my groin and my hand are killing me.
He winked at me and asked me if the call I had just made was the “He-should-have-been-out, so-I-called-him-out” call?
Michael looked at me and said that he just gave Damien that shit-assed grin of his.
Then Damien said that he had made that call a couple of times himself.
It’s not a bad call to make every now and then, he said. This was certainly the perfect fuckin’ time to have made it, son. I’m more than glad you did.
Michael ended the story by saying that he and Damien just smiled at each other as they walked over to their trucks, hats and mask in hand, some parents beginning to leave, other parents still screaming obscenities at each other, ready to rumble. The lights went out on the field; the night sky was beautiful with the stars shining perfectly.